About Ombudsman Services: The Consumer Ombudsman
If you have a complaint about goods or services purchased in the UK post 1st January 2015 (or for online purchases within the European Union) we may be able to help.
Consumers who bring their complaint to us can be certain that they will receive a free, fair and independent service for dealing with their dispute.
We ensure our services are widely accessible. We base our decisions on what is fair and reasonable. When we make a decision we take into account:
- both sides of the story;
- regulatory rules, guidance and standards;
- codes of practice, relevant law and regulations; and
- what is accepted as good industry practice. We aim to find quick and realistic resolutions to your complaint which you and the company both agree on.
You can withdraw from the process at any point. If you choose not to accept our decision, your (the complainant) legal rights remain unaffected and you can take the matter to court - subject to any requirements set by the courts.
If we decide that a participating company has made a mistake, treated you unfairly or that the goods or services supplied were not fit for purpose, we may require an award that returns you to the position you would be in had the mistake not occurred. We take into account the contractual agreement between you and the company.We can also require a participating company to apologise for the time you have spent and the trouble the company has caused as a result of the dispute. As part of this, we may require the company to make a payment to you in recognition of the problems it has caused.
We can award up to £25,000 to put a problem right.
Telling the business about your complaint
There are some rules about when we can help.
Before you can bring a complaint to us you must: Raise your complaint.
If you are unhappy with a product or service you should tell the company that provided it and explain what you would like as a resolution. Escalate your complaint if necessary.
Make a note of any contact you have with the company and save any emails or letters. This will be used as evidence to support your case if it is brought to us. The type of information you should note might include the time and dates of conversations, the name of the person/s you spoke to and a record of what was said.
Give the company a chance to fix it
The company must have a reasonable opportunity to resolve your complaint and you must have exhausted their internal complaints procedure. It is better for you and the company if the dispute can be resolved quickly and without our intervention.
Still unhappy? Contact us
If you remain dissatisfied with the company you can register your complaint with us by completing the online form here. We will contact the company and attempt to reach a resolution that you are both satisfied with. We may ask you to provide evidence to support your case and we will keep you informed of our progress.
Reaching a resolution
If a company is willing to work with us to resolve your complaint and provide a complaint file we will aim to reach a resolution within 90 days of receiving the file. We will keep you informed of our progress. If a company is unwilling to work with us - or we cannot reach a resolution that you are both satisfied with - we will give advice about your options. This may be contacting an organisation like Citizens Advice or Trading Standards, or taking your complaint to a small claims court.
Accepting our decision
If both you and the company agree to our resolution, the proposed resolution will be binding on the company.
If you choose not to accept our decision, your (the complainant) legal rights remain unaffected and you can take the matter to court - subject to any requirements set by the courts.
Is there is a deadline for bringing a complaint to Ombudsman Services: The Consumer Ombudsman?
We can only deal with complaints about goods or services that were purchased on or after 1st January 2015. You must tell the business involved in your dispute about your complaint within 12 months from the date you purchased the product or service; or if a deadlock letter has been issued, within 12 months of the deadlock letter
Telling us about your complaint
If you would prefer someone else/a third party (eg lawyer or legal advisor) to handle your complaint with Ombudsman Services for you, we can make arrangements with you to do this, although you are not obliged to use by a third party.
What we can deal with
We can deal with complaints about:
- Faulty goods/service
- Poor service
- Failed/incomplete or non delivery of goods or services
- Shody workmanship
- Pricing issues
What we cannot deal with
We cannot accept a complaint if:
- The complaint is about goods or services purchased before 1st January 2015.
- The complaint appears to be frivolous or vexatious.
- The complaint is not about goods or services.
- The complaint has been or is subject to court proceedings, arbitration, or other independent procedure for the resolution of the complaint. Unless there is proof that the process has been abandoned, stayed or suspended.
- Dealing with the complaint, or a complaint of its type, would seriously impair the operation of Ombudsman Services.
Ombudsman Services’ discretion
Ombudsman Services has absolute discretion to decide whether a complaint is within its terms of reference.
Register your complaint
Before you contact us you should give the company you are complaining about a reasonable opportunity to resolve the issue. If you remain dissatisfied, you can contact us via the following: